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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 17893
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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In October my sheepdog collapsed as if with a stroke. He lost

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In October my sheepdog collapsed as if with a stroke. He lost the use of his legs for a day. He was treated by the vet for an infection in the head. He can now get about but is unsteady and still carries his head at 90 degrees to the ground. He is completely aware of everything around him and eats and goes to the toilet perfectly. For the last six weeks he has been losing his hair in clumps. Could you offer any advice as I am about to ask for a second opinion.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Billie had an episode of collapse and loss of his ability to get around, and was left with a residual head tilt and incoordination and now is losing hair in clumps.
Is your fellow itchy?
Is his skin red or irritated where he has lost hair?
Does he seem lethargic or has he gained weight since his episode?
Strokes in dogs are relatively rare, and generally although many do recover it is usually slower, over a period of weeks rather than a day.
Rather than a stroke it is possible that your fellow may have had an episode of vestibular disease. Vestibular disease is a malfunction of the balance system, either a problem in the inner ear itself or in the nerves that take information to the brain or in the brain itself. Episodes often come on suddenly.
With vestibular disease he could get very dizzy and as such have trouble with coordinated movement. They will often fall or lean to one side. They tend to recover more quickly with vestibular disease than with a stroke.
Did he have a history of an ear infection before this episode? if so that may be why your veterinarian chose to treat him with an antibiotic.
There can be several causes of vestibular disease. They range from very benign causes such as idiopathic (meaning we don't know the cause but they resolve on their own with supportive care) to middle ear infections or polyps, brain infections (bacterial, fungal or viral), hypothyroidism, or even a primary brain lesion such as a blood clot, bleeding or a tumor.
If we cannot identify a cause then we will often treat the patient symptomatically (anti-nausea drugs, anti-inflammatories and possibly antibiotics if an ear infection is a concern) as most dogs do get better with supportive care.
His prognosis if this is caused by a lesion outside the brain is very good in most cases.
We may check bloodwork to make sure organ failure or low thyroid hormone are not the cause of his symptoms. If your fellow isn't itchy then his loss of hair and loss of balance may both be related to hypothyroidism, and that can be tested for with a thyroid panel.
It is also possible that these two things are unrelated, that his vestibular disease was a separate health concern than this.
Either way I think it reasonable to have him examined and some screening bloodwork checked.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I found Billie 6 years ago frozen to a footpath. He has always been very deaf and I always thought that this might have led to him being abandoned. He has no interest in playing ball now but still loves going out. However he does now seem to feel the cold in his head/ears.

There is no inflamation where he has lost hair, in fact it is very white and clean.

The incident happened when he was actively running after his ball as normal and his legs went from under him and he appeared very confused as to what was happening.

Thank you for the further history.
Poor fellow is very lucky that you found him!
That is a very strange presentation for vestibular disease, so it is possible that he had a stroke, especially because it occurred when his blood pressure was likely elevated and it was sudden onset.
A stroke shouldn't cause hair loss though, and so other endocrine diseases that predispose to hypertension and a stroke would be reasonable to look for. I would still look for hypothyroidism, but Cushing's disease (hyoeradrenocorticism) would be another possibility.